WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - AUGUST 16, 2023
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Maui Wildfire Now Ranks as The Fifth Deadliest in US History
“With dozens of people still unaccounted for, the conflagration that has caused widespread devastation across the Hawaiian island of Maui is now the fifth-deadliest wildland fire in U.S. history. The blaze, which started on Aug. 8 on Hawaii's second-largest island, has already surpassed death tolls tallied in California's biggest wildfires in recent years.” read more at ABC News
- Unimaginable loss. Devastating grief. The images and videos are breathtaking, but not in the usual way the beautiful Hawaiian island can be for many people. A historic town burned to the ground. Only three of the 99 bodies found so far were identifiable by fingerprints and there is still an estimated 1,000 souls unaccounted for.
- President Biden’s reaction has been anemic. When asked about the situation over the weekend, he replied, “No comment.” While the President has approved a disaster declaration that authorizes federal relief for individuals and businesses impacted by the fire, including a one-time payment of $700 to those displaced from their homes, residents say they aren’t getting the help they need, and critics argue the administration is offering too little aid while simultaneously asking Congress for another $25 billion for Ukraine.
- Regardless of how our government handles the disaster, we look to God for hope. A Lahaina church undamaged by the wildfires is just one of the examples of those stepping up to help, even though many of its own members have suffered losses. Just a week before the fires, the church made headlines stating that in 7 years, 2,000 had chosen to follow Christ!
Pray for those who have lost loved ones, that God would comfort them. Pray for those who have damaged or destroyed property, who have lost homes, jobs and businesses; that they will be sustained and have hope. Pray for those who are helping to care for the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of those impacted, that they will be a source of strength in the days, weeks and even years to come.
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed their resources to help with physical needs as well as provide chaplains to give emotional support and spiritual comfort to residents reeling in the wake of so much loss. Consider supporting their ministry and work in Maui here. They are also updating their website with information on volunteer opportunities as they become available.
CA Parents Could Soon Face Jail Time for Speaking Out at School Board Meetings
“Parents in California could face jail time for speaking out on behalf of their children at school board meetings if the state legislature passes a bill that would criminalize any adult for disrupting or creating ‘substantial disorder.’ Critics warn it is a way to stop parents from speaking out. SB 596 was already passed in the California State Senate in May and is making its way through the floor of the lower chamber as lawmakers have broadened some terms in the law.” read more at CBN News
- Jim Manley, state legal policy deputy director at the Pacific Legal Institute, said the state government has the authority to make laws regarding school board meetings. However, “What sends up potential red flags is some of the language in this bill,” he said. The proposed law doesn’t define “substantial disorder,” and its definition of “harassment” leaves room for broad interpretation—broad enough to potentially infringe on a parent’s First Amendment right to free speech.
- Under existing law, free speech doesn’t apply to threats of violence and other illegal activity. So, if this bill isn’t necessary, what’s its real purpose? It appears that the state, under the guise of protecting school board members from harassment, is trying to insulate them from criticism by making parents afraid to violate a law so broad it’s unclear where they will have crossed the line. This is an abuse of power.
- The bill follows a pattern of the state suppressing parental rights. When the Chino Valley Unified School District adopted a policy requiring parents to be notified if their child identifies as transgender, the state attorney general opened a civil rights investigation into the district. However, a neighboring district, Murrieta Valley Unified School District, adopted the same kind of parental notification policy last week. It appears that courage inspires more courage!
Heavenly Father, You know what’s best for children, and You have entrusted them to their parents to raise in accordance with Your principles. Father, come against efforts to usurp the authority You have given to parents. Help us to respectfully stand up for these rights and support those who are in the fight.
If you live in California, please join our friend Pastor Jack Hibbs on August 21 at the state capitol for a public gathering outside beginning at 11 AM. Sacramento Rally for Parental Rights & Lobby Day is taking place to lobby against anti-parent bills:
- AB 665 - State-Sanctioned Kidnapping
- AB 957 - Judges Must Side with Gender Affirming Parents Over Custody
- AB 1078 - The State Taking Control Over Local School Boards
- AB 5 - Training Teachers to Profile Non-LGBTQ Affirming Parents
- SB 596 - Silencing Parental Free Speech
If you do not live in California, please mark your calendar to pause at 11AM Pacific time on August 21 to pray against these bills and pray for the parents, grandparents, and pastors who will be gathered at the capitol to pray and speak against this evil.
Many Young Adults Say Marriage is an 'Outdated Tradition'
“While a significant number of millennials and Gen Zers view marriage as an ‘outdated tradition’ and are opting for cohabitation instead, many still plan to marry someday, according to a recent survey. As a survey conducted by the Thriving Center of Psychology found earlier this summer, two in five millennials and Gen Zers view marriage as an ‘outdated tradition,’ a mindset held by 41% of men and 52% of women.” read more at The Christian Post
- In the survey, 85 percent reported that they don’t feel marriage is needed to “have a fulfilling and committed relationship” and 73 percent stated they felt it’s “too expensive” to get married. Have we reduced marriage to simply be based on individual “feelings”?
- Ironically, if good feelings are your goal, in America, nothing currently predicts “happiness” in life better than a good marriage. New research from the University of Chicago found that marriage is “the most important differentiator” of who is happy and that falling marriage rates are a chief reason why happiness has declined nationally. The research revealed a startling 30-percentage-point happiness divide between married and unmarried Americans.
- As a society, we've been marginalizing, trivializing and even redefining marriage. We've been separating marriage from the good that it has represented not only in terms of the relationship and the gift of children, but also in terms of civilization's achievement of reaching adulthood. As the biblical worldview would remind us, unless marriage is returned to its position of sanctity and honor–that is the lifelong union of a man and a woman–there will be one tragedy after another.
The enemy is working hard to destroy marriage because it is the foundation of strong families. When families fall, society falls. Pray for biblical marriage to be held in high regard, for unity in families, and for God’s Word to be honored and obeyed. Download this prayer guide to help you pray for marriages and strong families.
Great marriages don’t just happen. They take intentional time and everyday investment. As someone who recently celebrated 24 years of marriage and leads marriage retreats for other couples, committing to investing in your marriage is worth it! If you’re married, maybe it’s time to do just that. Weekend to Remember hosts retreats throughout the nation to strengthen your marriage in a Christ-centered way. See if there is a retreat near you.
Trump Indictment in Georgia Puts Election Challenges and Presidential Tweets on Trial
“Georgia’s sprawling criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump takes direct aim at his tweets and phone calls in his bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state. Mr. Trump lost Georgia by 11,779 votes, and he believes election irregularities were responsible for President Biden’s victory in the state. Mr. Trump made that case to Georgia officials and on social media, and the claim could land him in prison for more than two decades.” read more at The Washington Times
- Regarding this unprecedented fourth indictment of Trump, our friend Jim Denison makes an important observation: “Whether you believe Mr. Trump is guilty of the crimes with which he is charged or the victim of a political conspiracy, you are accusing either a former US president or some of America’s highest governmental officials of significant moral failings.” Either way, someone in our government has failed us.
- Where does this moral failure come from? The same place it comes from in you and me–our hearts. (Mark 7:20-23, Romans 2:5) When our culture moves away from faith in God and respect for His authority, why should we expect the actions of our government to reflect His morals? And in a government of, by, and for the people, we have even more influence on the character of those in office, for good or evil.
- So, in Denison’s words, “Let’s pray and work for a democracy where God’s word becomes our measure of morality, judgment, and justice. If you believe this is impossible, you’re right in human terms. But remember Jesus’ words: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). It is always too soon to give up on God.”
I take great encouragement from the prophet Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9: “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong…. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act!” (Daniel 9:15,18,19) Read the rest of His prayer and spend some time praying for our country today.
This story amplifies the need for Christians to be equipped and motivated to vote in every election. Sunday, September 17 is My Faith Votes’ 5th annual National Voter Registration Sunday. Make sure your church participates! Visit our special website, Voter Registration Sunday, to access free tools and resources for your church. Our prayer is that God would use you to help activate more Christ-followers in your church to bring their faith into the voting booth.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.